Scarlett O'Brien dreams that her life will one day become just like a romantic comedy. Her friends and family worry about her because she seems to beScarlett O'Brien dreams that her life will one day become just like a romantic comedy. Her friends and family worry about her because she seems to be dissatisfied with the life she has because of her obsession with the movies. She's engaged to be married in a couple of months but she just doesn't seem to be very excited at the prospect.
When the opportunity to house-sit in Notting Hill comes along, everybody, including Scarlett, thinks it's a great idea. Those who care about her think it will give her time away from her fiance to think about what's really important to her. Scarlett is excited because it's the setting of her favorite movie. And what better place to live scenes from a movie and prove to her loved ones that life really can be like the movies?
This was cute but the underlying premise felt weak. I would be rocking right along, enjoying all Scarlett's misadventures and then something like, "Yet another movie moment for my collection! I knew I'd show everyone!" would come up. It was unnecessary and because of that, it kept pulling me out of the story. I think this could have been slightly re-worked to change that foundation and made into a stronger book.
That aside, I really did enjoy it.
I liked Scarlett a lot when she wasn't trying to orchestrate a scene from Pretty Woman or Sleepless in Seattle. She is an insecure dreamer who feels like she's missed out on something by never knowing her mom. She has a great group of friends and she actually knows it. And I mostly like her taste in movies. Luckily, there was an index at the end that listed them all. I'm in the mood to watch a lot of them again after reading this. My poor husband...
There's another character that I really like but I'm afraid talking about him/her would be a spoiler, so I'll skip it.
The situations that Scarlett gets herself into just cracked me up! A Star Wars wedding, a Disney wedding, being escorted home by the police, hanging from a balcony... Yes, it's a little goofy, but I'm grinning just thinking about it.
Fans of romantic comedies will definitely like this one....more
Yunior has cheated one too many times. The smartass Dominican narrator of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao is just not in a good place. In a serieYunior has cheated one too many times. The smartass Dominican narrator of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao is just not in a good place. In a series of short stories set around different events in his life, he reflects on how he has arrived at this point.
This is so hard for me to rate!
I was not happy through most of these stories. I really, really, really liked Yunior in Oscar Wao. Would I ever date him? Absolutely not. Did I like him? Yes. He was a screw-up at best but he seemed to have his life together by the end of that book. At least from what I remember.
But this shows us that he doesn't. He can't seem to change his ways.
He relates affairs, his relationships with his brother and his father, his friends' affairs.... This is not a happy romcom by any stretch of the imagination.
I still loved Yunior's voice, I just wanted to smack him around until he became the person I knew he could be.
And then I read the last page and a half. Yes. That close to the freaking end of a book that was at best three stars, Junot Díaz rocked my world. I understood where Yunior was coming from and what he was trying to do. I understood what he was saying. And I loved it. I had goosebumps, it was so perfect. I am not lying. I started seeing what was going on and I got more and more excited and then I read the last sentence and I was in love. It was perfection. Seriously. I immediately wanted to flip to the front and start over and see how my perspective shifted now that I got it. But the library book is due tomorrow so I don't have time for that. I probably need a little distance anyway.
There is one story written from a female point of view. As far as I could tell, she didn't have anything to do with Yunior but she added another layer to the threads of the immigrant experience and fidelity in relationships.
There is a lot going on in this slim book. Families, illness, immigration, relationships, starting over, loss, and more I can't think of right now. None of it was particularly easy to read, but with this book, Junot Díaz has made me a fan for life. I recommend it if a a very stark reality and tough themes don't turn you off....more
Fermín Romero de Torres is finally getting married. He's got one problem though--he's living under an assumed name. He has absolutely no proof that heFermín Romero de Torres is finally getting married. He's got one problem though--he's living under an assumed name. He has absolutely no proof that he legally exists. How is he supposed to get married without all the paperwork to prove that he is whom he says he is? As he explains this to Daniel Sempere, his history is finally explained in more detail, as well as his tie to David Martín, hero of The Angel's Game.
Eh. It was better than The Angel's Game but still a long way from The Shadow of the Wind. I love Fermín, so I enjoyed delving into his story, painful as that was. But the plot felt like filler between books. It feels like there has to be a fourth book in this loose series and The Prisoner of Heaven is just a placeholder. There were some revelations that clarified a few points and set up some definite conflict for future books, but there wasn't enough going on to justify an entire book. At least it was short.
I also missed Ruiz Zafón's gorgeous writing. It didn't even feel like the same author/translator team, although it was. It was just a story, pure and simple. I didn't feel any desire to mark any passages at all. I don't know who fell down on the job here, but it just wasn't up to the standard I've set for this pair.
I'll give The Cemetery of Forgotten Books one more try, but I'm starting to wonder if The Shadow of the Wind was just a fluke. I sincerely hope not. ...more
Adam Snow gets lost in the countryside on a drive back to London one evening and finds himself at a derelict house. He gets out of the car to look aroAdam Snow gets lost in the countryside on a drive back to London one evening and finds himself at a derelict house. He gets out of the car to look around and feels a small hand slip into his. There's no one else there. He takes the memory of the hand with him and remembers it as a comforting presence. But then he starts to have panic attacks, near misses, and inexplicable urges to harm himself. The small hand obviously does not bear him good will.
Eh. This was more Gothic than horror so I feel that it was too short to really work up some good suspense. Gothic novels are such a slow burn that they almost have to be chunksters to really pull me in and get my nerves on edge. At less than 200 pages, the events of this book happen relatively quickly and feel rushed and even a little obvious. The basic premise is very solid though and I think I would have enjoyed a longer book much more than I did this one.
Being so short, it is worth a try if you're interested or if you're in the mood for a little Gothic fun though....more
Professor Gary Fuller sets out to fill in the gaps in your geography knowledge.
I would guess that I know a little more geography than the average AmerProfessor Gary Fuller sets out to fill in the gaps in your geography knowledge.
I would guess that I know a little more geography than the average American but I'll be the first to admit that I'm still woefully lacking. I downloaded this book on a nook Free Friday (I believe), thinking that I might learn a thing or two.
I sure did! I wish more of it had stuck with me, but I now know that camels originated in North America, the first country you come to if you go directly south of Detroit is Canada (I'm ashamed that I didn't know that one) and if you go directly south of Chicago, you'll run into the Pacific ocean, not South America (again, I'm ashamed that I didn't know that). There were lots more facts packed into this little book, all presented in a fun, entertaining way. I actually had a hard time putting the book down!
The format of the book worked really well for me. The chapters were short and began with a series of questions. That's the one thing I didn't like. By the time I got to the answer, I'd forgotten what the question was and there often wasn't much of a contextual clue. I would have had an easier time with a physical copy, just marking the question page, but I wasn't willing to go clicking back through the pages on my nook.
Trivia lovers should really enjoy this book, and I highly recommend it!...more
In this true story, Roy and Silo are two male chinstrap penguins in the Central Park Zoo who don't quite fit in. They don't take any notice of the femIn this true story, Roy and Silo are two male chinstrap penguins in the Central Park Zoo who don't quite fit in. They don't take any notice of the female penguins and instead form their own little family.
What an adorable little book! The illustrations by Henry Cole are charming. The story of Roy and Silo is sensitively written for the young ones. I was sad as they tried to nest and then uplifted when little Tango came along. All in the space of 30 or so pages. And I just love that the story is completely true.
Much as I wish this world were more accepting, this book is not going to be for all families. If your family can handle it, I do recommend the book. It's a good introduction for children to the concept of families that are a little different but that are still built on love....more
Buck is a dog's dog, in and out of the house, accompanying the masters around at well, and just generally living the good life in California. But whenBuck is a dog's dog, in and out of the house, accompanying the masters around at well, and just generally living the good life in California. But when the Alaskan gold rush starts, big dogs are suddenly worth a small fortune because of their ability to pull fully-laden sleds. Buck is furtively sold by one of the gardeners and he finds himself in a veritable Hell on earth, but this version of Hell is frozen over.
But Buck is a survivor and he adapts to his new circumstances. No, he doesn't adapt; he thrives.
This was shelved in the juvenile section of my local library, and I have to say that surprises me a little bit. It's just that the vocabulary seemed pretty tough for the juvenile crowd. Had I read this as a pre-teen, I would have hated it. I would have been focused on Buck being kidnapped and how hard his life was in Alaska.
Now that I'm a little older, I appreciate the book more. Some parts bothered me, as Buck passed through the hands of various owners, some of whom were vicious. I'm pretty sure I just skimmed through the worst of the beatings. I ultimately found myself admiring Buck's strength. He thrived on his work and he thrived on being the Alpha dog. He was ultimately in his element. The harsh life he found himself in brought out some of his worst and best qualities. Isn't it funny how the two just naturally go hand in hand in some situations? He's a bully but he's a survivor. He's a natural leader. He has a boundless capacity for love. He's a hard work. He's intuitive. He gives his all to every task he's given. There's a lot to admire in him, even when he's practically feral.
The essay writer I keep buried (deeply) within sees the potential here for a great essay on the nature of man and beast and how our civility is nothing more than a thin veneer over our baser instincts. Some of my favorite parts in the book are when buck's ancestral memories come bubbling up and he can remember his ancestors living with cave men at the dawn of time.
If you can get through the sections of abuse, I do recommend this classic adventure tale. It's a quick read, it left me thinking, and it would be perfect to read as a winter storm blows outside. ...more
When The Wish Giver comes to the Coven Tree church social, four townspeople exchange 50 cents each for one wish. They can't even begin to dream how thWhen The Wish Giver comes to the Coven Tree church social, four townspeople exchange 50 cents each for one wish. They can't even begin to dream how their wishes will affect their lives.
I remember loving this book when I was in about fifth grade. I couldn't remember a thing about the story but I remember how much I loved this book.
It held up well! As a young reader, I doubt that I noticed that the story is a cautionary tale about being careful what you wish for, I just liked the fanciful way that the wishes turned out. Polly wishes that people would like her and smile when they see her. Rowena wishes that a handsome traveling salesman would put down roots in their town. Adam wishes for water all over his parents' farm. They get what they wish for, all right!
This was a quick, easy read for me and I'm pretty sure I smiled all the way through, reliving the magic I felt as a young reader. The illustrations by Andrew Glass are great too. There's one picture of the traveling salesman in particular that still sends a chill down my spine!
I wholehearted recommend this for younger readers. It's a fun story that would be a delight to read aloud with a child....more
All our familiar storybook characters have had to leave their homelands because an evil creature known as the Adversary has destroyed them. They haveAll our familiar storybook characters have had to leave their homelands because an evil creature known as the Adversary has destroyed them. They have all converged on New York. In order to fit into mainstream society, there are some pretty stringent rules in effect. Snow White is effectively in control but her right-hand "man" is Bigby, otherwise know as the Big Bad Wolf.
Jack the Giant Killer comes tearing into their headquarters one day with a story of finding Rose Red, his on-again off-again girlfriend and Snow's sister, missing from her apartment, which is covered in blood. Has there been a murder? Who did it?
The first thing that struck me is how very much Snow White in the opening pages of this graphic novel looks like Regina/The Evil Queen from Once Upon a Time. My husband was even struck by it when I showed him. I know that doesn't have much to do with anything, I just found it amusing.
Anyway, I really liked this story and the world that Willingham has built here. I am a fan of Once Upon a Time, so the idea of storybook characters living in our world is familiar to me. Still, this take is slightly different (and first--I just came to them backwards). They aren't cut off from the world in a little out-of-the-way town; most of them are living in the heart of one of the biggest cities in the world. I liked seeing how their personalities allowed them to thrive or not in that setting.
I was surprised by the mystery and had absolutely no idea "whodunnit." I was also amused by the characters gathering at the end for the classic "parlor scene" so familiar to fans of the cozy mystery.
I liked the art a lot as well. I liked the whole book, but what really stood out to me were the--frontispieces?--for each chapter. I spent a long time looking at each one to make sure that I didn't overlook some subtle detail. They were amazing.
I don't have a whole lot else to say. I like the tension between Bigby and Snow White and I'm interested to see where that goes. I felt this was a strong beginning to a series that will probably get better with time.
I recommend this is you're a fan of retold fairy tales. I've already picked up the second book from the library....more
Editor Leah Wilson has collected a series of thirteen essays from various young adult authors, each addressing a different aspect of The Hunger GamesEditor Leah Wilson has collected a series of thirteen essays from various young adult authors, each addressing a different aspect of The Hunger Games trilogy.
How do I put this? I'm not really a huge analyzer of books. Sure, I write plenty of reviews, but in those I just write what I liked (or not) and why. That's really about as far as I go. Back in my English class days, I could produce solid essays but since graduating, I've gotten to be a lazy reader. I'll occasionally think about the more obvious themes in a book, but then I pick up the next one and move on. This collection impressed me because of the amount of thought that went into each and every essay. I had mused briefly about some of the topics, I think my sister and I even discussed a few of them, but these authors all went above and beyond in their analyses.
My favorite was "Team Katniss" by Jennifer Lynn Barnes. This was one essay that overlapped with a conversation my sister and I had. Why "Team Peeta" or "Team Gale"? Why not "Team Katniss"? Katniss is pretty freaking awesome on her own. Barnes presents her argument better than Rachel or I ever did. I just loved it.
I also really enjoyed "Community in the Face of Tyranny" by Bree Despain. I don't recall thinking much about the (lack of) community in the world of Panem. Despain argues that part of Katniss's magic comes from her ability to foster a sense of community wherever she goes. It's true, and I liked it.
At first, I thought entries by Cara Lockwood and Terri Clark were a little more light-hearted but even these surprised me with their depth. Lockwood writes about the "Not So Weird Science" of Panem and how these far-fetched "muttations" could become realities sooner than we think. She also addressed the need for science to look at the consequences of genetic engineering and not just "Can we do it?" Clark writes about a "Crime of Fashion" and the role that Katniss's looks, and Cinna's hand in them, played in the series. How far would Katniss have gotten without Cinna? Sure, we the readers love her, but she would probably have been largely overlooked if she'd first appeared in a humdrum coal mining outfit.
I feel the need to mention "The Politics of Mockingjay" by Sarah Darer Littman. It draws blatant parallels between the politics of the War on Terror and the politics of Panem. I enjoyed reading it, but I know it will completely turn off some readers with different political beliefs. I was surprised to read this in a book aimed at young adults, but we all need to be aware of what's going on in the world around us.
There's a sequence of essays that leads from reality vs unreality to reality tv to the power of the media and those all kind of blended together for me. I can't say that any were badly written, but I had, surprisingly enough, considered most of this while I was reading the trilogy. They started to overlap and get repetitive.
Fans who just can't get enough of The Hunger Games trilogy should enjoy reading this. It's thought-provoking and informative, and will probably leave you ready to re-read the books. ...more
In this memoir, Lithgow writes of how his early years shaped him as an actor, from his childhood, to his time at Harvard, to his studies in the UK asIn this memoir, Lithgow writes of how his early years shaped him as an actor, from his childhood, to his time at Harvard, to his studies in the UK as a Fulbright scholar, and on to his breakthrough on Broadway and film.
I truly enjoyed listening to Lithgow narrate his own personal history. I don't know how much of his work I've actually seen, but I do like his voice. He took my thoughts and feelings exactly where he wanted them to go. I was quiet and pensive as he spoke about the power of story in his father's last days, I was howling with laughter alone in my car as he wrote about his father telling off a decidedly unpassionate Romeo, and I was interested enough not to notice as I listened and worked my way through yet another week of the Couch to 5K training program.
You could probably accuse Lithgow of name-dropping, but when he's speaking of his work, it's impossible not to name-drop. I was very interested to learn that he was at Harvard with Tommy Lee Jones and that he saw some of Meryl Streep's earliest Broadway auditions.
He doesn't hold much, if anything, back. His first marriage was rocky and he acknowledges his role in that. He writes honestly about his great love and respect for his father, how confused he felt to sort of surpass his work, and how determined he became to disassociate himself from his father's influence.
If you like memoirs at all, I do recommend this as audio. It's wonderfully narrated by a fascinating man.
I read the first chapter of Daytripper and was completely taken aback. I was in the mood for some graphic novels and I had just grabbed whatever lookeI read the first chapter of Daytripper and was completely taken aback. I was in the mood for some graphic novels and I had just grabbed whatever looked promising at my local library. I had never heard of this book and I didn't read the synopsis too closely but it still caught my eye. When the main character was murdered at the end of the first chapter, I didn't know what to think. *blinkblink* *blinkblink* "Well, maybe the rest of the book is about his life before the murder?" I thought to myself. But no. He dies in a completely different way and much earlier in his life at the end of the second chapter. "Okay. This has got to be going somewhere."
And go somewhere it did. I was so excited as I got closer to the end and finally realized what Moon and Bá were telling me (I freely admit I can be dense at times; this was one of those times). I knew that if the authors got the end right, this graphic novel would be beyond awesome. They pulled it off. I finished it and sat back just completely and utterly satisfied in a way that I rarely am at the end of a book. Daytripper rocked my world almost as deeply as Maus did but in a very different way. I don't make the comparison lightly.
It's hard to even say what the book is about, much less what I took away from it. It's a book that on the surface is all about the myriad ways that we can die. But beneath that superficial layer is a profound statement about life and living and wringing everything that we can out of the time we have. I have a feeling that everyone takes something a little different away from this book, but that's the best way I can word how it affected me. Any of us can go at any time. What are you going to do with your time? Are you happy with the path your life is following? If not, what are you going to do about it?
Daytripper will leave you pondering these questions and more. I highly recommend it....more
A young woman, out wandering the streets after a fight with her boyfriend, stumbles upon The Night Bookmobile. The books inside are strangely familiarA young woman, out wandering the streets after a fight with her boyfriend, stumbles upon The Night Bookmobile. The books inside are strangely familiar. The librarian tells her that the library contains everything she's ever read in her lifetime. All too soon, dawn comes, the librarian escorts her out the door, and the young woman feels bereft. She can't get The Night Bookmobile out of her mind and she starts to look for it everywhere, choosing her books with the idea of rounding out her collection.
I love this premise. Can you imagine seeing all the words you've ever read in one place? They aren't just books. They're cereal boxes and everything. In my library, that reviled copy of Lord of the Flies would be buried somewhere at the back on a bottom shelf while the works of L. M. Montgomery and Charles de Lint would be well-worn but in places of honor at eye-level at the front. How awesome would that be?
But almost from the beginning, Niffenegger rings a faint warning bell and it gets louder throughout this short piece. It's very well done, and while it's a warning that most devoted readers need to hear, that doesn't mean that I liked what it led to. Holy cow. I flipped forward and back a few times, just to make sure I'd really read what I thought I'd read. I had. Man. I love my books, but...man.
And that's all I'll say about that.
Read it for the idea, but don't expect to be charmed at the end....more